House GOP aims to ease concealed weapons rules

House Republicans are preparing to take up legislation next week that would make it easier for people to carry a concealed weapon as they travel from state to state.

Under the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act, H.R. 822, anyone with a valid license to carry a concealed weapon in his or her home state could carry in other states, as long as those states allow concealed weapons and don't have specific rules about concealed weapons carried by nonresidents. Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), who sponsored the bill, said earlier this year that the aim is to let states recognize one another's decisions to grant concealed weapons permits.

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"The right to self defense is unquestionable and the right to carry a firearm is recognized in our Constitution," Stearns said. "Today, 48 states have laws permitting concealed carry of a firearm in some circumstances, and this legislation would allow any person with a valid state-issued concealed firearm carry permit or license to carry a concealed handgun in any other state.

"It is important to note this bill would not create a federal licensing system," he added. "It would merely require states to recognize each other's carry permits, just as they recognize drivers' licenses and carry permits held by armored car guards."

As of this year, only Illinois and Washington, D.C., do not allow concealed weapons.

The House Rules Committee this week set a Nov. 14 deadline for receiving amendments to the bill. The committee had not set a meeting to approve a rule for the bill as of Tuesday afternoon.